Lemon juice has become a staple in the American kitchen. In its purest form, you simply slice a lemon in half and squeeze all that natural goodness from it. But as with many products, with an eye toward convenience, lemon juice has long been available in a reconstituted form, making long-term storage more convenient and larger amounts of the juice more affordable.
The Real Thing
Natural lemon juice is mostly water. About 5 percent is citric acid, which is what gives lemons that distinctive sour taste. Lemons also contain several other chemicals that add to their tartness: malic acid, ascorbic acid--better known as Vitamin C--tartaric and fumaric acids, along with a few others in very small amounts.
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Bottled Lemon Juice
Lemon juice concentrate is made by heating large amounts of the juice so that most of the water evaporates, leaving behind a thickened rich lemon essence. The oils from the lemon peel are also sometimes added for additional flavor. This concentrate is reconstituted by adding some of the water that was removed in processing. Preservatives are also added to extend the shelf life of the product.
The ratio of water to juice greatly affects the tartness of the final product, so the reconstitution formula should produce a product that contains roughly 2/10 oz. of acidity to roughly 4 oz. of concentrate. A certain amount of cloudiness in the bottled product, caused by mixing the concentrated juice with water, is allowable according to FDA standards.
Using Reconstituted Lemon Juice
While its taste is noticeably different, reconstituted lemon juice can be used in any recipe calling for the freshly squeezed product. It can also be used to make lemonade, using a ratio of 1 cup of the bottled product to 2 cups sugar in 3 qt. of cold water. Bottled lemon juice can also be used in salad dressings, sauces and desserts.
While reconstituted lemon juice is a good substitute for freshly squeezed juice in recipes, its use is questionable when included as part of a popular detoxification diet. Pure lemon juice, along with a few other readily available ingredients, are mixed with water and thought to have cleansing qualities. Chemicals used as preservatives in bottled juice can interfere with the detoxification process.